Chief Justice on Courts, Lawsuit

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore told legislators Wednesday that the state's courts have been under-funded for years and need an additional $7.3 million to get through the current budget year.

Moore said he wants to avoid cutting jury trials, like he did briefly this year, but he would not rule anything out.

Rich Hobson, director of the Administrative Office of Courts said the judicial branch would also be asking the Legislature for an increase in funding next year. He said the request would be for about $136 to 137 million, compared to this year's budget of $123 million.

State Sen. Roger Bedford of Russellville said the courts do need more money, but will have to compete with the Department of Corrections and other agencies in dire financial straits.

Shortly after hearing from Moore, Corrections Commissioner Mike Haley said his agency would need a 70 percent funding increase next year, mostly to deal with several court orders concerning prison overcrowding.

Also Wednesday, Justice Moore called $704,000 in fees sought by plaintiff's lawyers in the Ten Commandments monument lawsuit "outrageous."

The six attorneys won a federal court order last month requiring Moore to remove a marble Ten Commandments monument from the Alabama Judicial Building. The attorneys filed a motion Monday asking Federal Judge Myron Thompson to order Moore to pay the fees.

Speaking to reporters at an orientation session for legislators at the University of Alabama Wednesday, Moore said the legal fees would be part of his appeal of Thompson's ruling. He said the appeal would be filed by the Dec. 18 deadline for appealing Thompson's ruling.

Moore previously said the money to defend the lawsuit would come out of his pocket or from his supporters.

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